Police have arrested a man they believe is linked to two Berkeley robberies, including one at Pharmaca, at Solano and Ensenada, in late August. Photo: Michael Patrick
Police have arrested a man they believe is linked to two Berkeley robberies, including one at Pharmaca, at Solano and Ensenada avenues, in late August (file photo). Photo: Michael Patrick

Police have arrested a 22-year-old San Pablo man in connection with a robbery at Pharmaca on Solano Avenue in late August, and say they believe he is linked to another Berkeley robbery two days later.

In response to a request from Berkeleyside, police confirmed the arrest of Covan VanHook in connection with the Aug. 29 robbery at Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy, at Solano and Ensenada avenues.

Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said another agency arrested VanHook in Contra Costa County on Sept. 3 in connection with a different case.

In the Pharmaca incident, a man entered the North Berkeley business with a gun and demanded prescription medication from the pharmacist, Coats said previously. The robber “jumped over the counter with a gun pointed at the employees and told them to fill his backpack,” according to unconfirmed scanner traffic.

Allen Cain, who runs the Solano Avenue Association, said Monday night at a crime prevention meeting at the Berkeley Police Department that the robber “went straight to the pharmacy” with a list of the desired pills.

“They handed them a list and said, ‘We know what these look like,’” Cain said. Pharmaca acted quickly, calling other pharmacies on Solano Avenue to alert them to the robbery that had just taken place. Cain said no other Solano Avenue businesses were hit that day, adding that the last armed robbery series he recalled on Solano Avenue was 15 years ago, and had been focused on restaurants.

Two days after the Pharmaca incident, on Aug. 31 at about 11:05 a.m., Berkeley officers responded to a report of a robbery at United Pharmacy, 2929 Telegraph Ave., just north of Ashby Avenue.

The suspects entered the business armed with guns, demanded cash and prescription medication, said Coats, then fled the business. No physical injuries were reported.

Berkeley police investigators looking into the Pharmaca incident ultimately linked VanHook to that robbery, too, Coats said.

The Bay Area News Group (BANG) reported in April 2014 that VanHook was part of a trio arrested in Hayward after an armed robbery at a 7-11 store there.

In that case, “Witnesses told police that two suspects walked into the store and that one suspect pointed a gun at the clerk and customers. The suspects ordered them to the ground, took cash from the register, ran out of the store and got into a car driven by a third suspect,” BANG reported.

In the most recent crime trend report from the Berkeley Police Department, authorities reported that robberies spiked 53% over the first six months of the year compared to 2014.

Have a question about a local public safety incident? Write to crime@berkeleyside.com. Photographs and videos are always appreciated.

Serious Berkeley crime skyrockets in first half of 2015 (09.10.15)
3 teens arrested after Berkeley robbery, assault (09.09.15)
Pharmaca in North Berkeley held up at gunpoint (09.03.15)
Berkeley police defend tactics after laundromat robbery (08.03.15)
Robber with ‘silver teeth’ evades Berkeley police (07.27.15)

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...